Furnace or Boiler

Most homes in the Vancouver area are heated by either forced air furnace or by boiler. Although both are generally run by gas or propane, there are a few difference that you should know before deciding which is best for you.

How Is Heat Produced?

A boiler uses hot water which produces steam to heat the home. A pump pushes the the steam from the boiler through pipes which are connected to the baseboards, cast iron radiators, or radiant flooring systems. In floor heating is a great choice for homes with ceramic, wood or laminate floors. Pipes are installed beneath the flooring, making floors nice and warm to walk on.

A forced air furnace unlike boilers which use hot water to produce steam, uses air to carry heat through the house. There will be cold air intake vents located in the home, which allow the furnace to pull cold air into the heat exchange and the blower then pushes the warm air back through the ductwork, and finally out to the room’s vents.

Air Quality

Boilers are the preferred choice for those who have allergies, respiratory problems or sensitive skin. The heat in the home is less dry with a boiler system since there isn’t any any hot air being distributed throughout rooms. Therefore, less dust, dirt and allergens are being pushes through the ducts and out through heating vents.


Quicker Heating Time

Forced air furnaces could be considered the “on demand” preferred heating source for homes. The thermostat set to desired temperature, will send a signal to the furnace to kick in and start producing heat. Within minutes, a forced air gas furnace can start producing heat. A boiler on the other hand, takes longer to heat up a home since it takes longer to heat the water which produces steam. Forced air produces a faster heat, however a boiler will produce a more consistent temperature.

Energy Usage

The cost of energy is something every homeowner needs to consider today. Boiler systems use less energy to heat a home than forced air gas. As with either furnace or boiler system, it’s important to purchase high energy efficient.


Furnaces are the most affordable option of the two. However, a boiler requires less maintenance over time. With a forced air furnace, there is the cost of changing filters and duct cleaning to factor into the cost. Both should have a recommended annual maintenance service done to ensure longevity.